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Abstractions blog

The skeletons of a man and woman, showing the difference in their heights.
Abstractions blog

Males Are the Taller Sex. Estrogen, Not Fights for Mates, May Be Why.

June 8, 2020

To explain why men are on average taller than women, scientists theorized about competition for mates. But the effects of estrogen on bone growth may be answer enough.

A digital simulacrum of a protein.
abstractions blog

A Digital Locksmith Has Decoded Biology’s Molecular Keys

June 3, 2020

Neural networks have been taught to quickly read the surfaces of proteins — molecules critical to many biological processes.

An illustration of a knot that mathematicians might study using tools called invariants.
abstractions blog

In a Single Measure, Invariants Capture the Essence of Math Objects

June 2, 2020

To distinguish between fundamentally different objects, mathematicians turn to invariants that encode the objects’ essential features.

Photo of various colorful maps
Abstractions blog

In Mathematics, It Often Takes a Good Map to Find Answers

June 1, 2020

Mathematicians try to figure out when problems can be solved using current knowledge — and when they have to chart a new path instead.

Lines representing paths of particles fan out from a point and pass through a series of detectors.
Abstractions blog

Growing Anomalies at the Large Hadron Collider Raise Hopes

May 26, 2020

Collider physicists report that several measurements of particles called B mesons deviate from predictions. Alone, each oddity looks like a fluke, but their collective drift is more suggestive.

Stalks and spore bodies of a slime mold rise above a smooth surface.
Abstractions blog

Out-of-Sync ‘Loners’ May Secretly Protect Orderly Swarms

May 21, 2020

Studies of collective behavior usually focus on how crowds of organisms coordinate their actions. But what if the individuals that don’t participate have just as much to tell us?

A baby lizard emerging from a transparent egg membrane.
Abstractions blog

Egg Laying or Live Birth: How Evolution Chooses

May 18, 2020

A lizard that both lays eggs and gives birth to live young is helping scientists understand how and why these forms of reproduction evolved.

A quantum knot.
Abstractions blog

‘Milestone’ Evidence for Anyons, a Third Kingdom of Particles

May 12, 2020

Anyons don’t fit into either of the two known particle kingdoms. To find them, physicists had to erase the third dimension.

Three particles moving closer together then farther apart. The region between them appears in green.
Abstractions blog

What Goes On in a Proton? Quark Math Still Conflicts With Experiments.

May 6, 2020

Two ways of approximating the ultra-complicated math that governs quark particles have recently come into conflict, leaving physicists unsure what their decades-old theory predicts.